The sub-$1000 notebook market is one that we rarely cover here at PC Perspective. It's not due to a lack of interest from us, but rather from notebook manufacturers.
Generally, companies are only interested in sending out their latest flagship products, which leaves us without much of an opinion on the notebooks that most people actually walk into a brick and mortar retailer to purchase.
Today, we're looking at one of these more mainstream notebooks which can be found with a quad-core 8th generation Intel processor for under $900—the Dell Inspiron 13 7373 2-in-1.
|Dell Inspiron 13 7373 2-in-1|
|MSRP||$879 (Configuration as reviewed)||$1049||$1149||$1299|
|Screen||13.3” FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS touch display|
|CPU||Core i5-8250U||Core i7-8550U|
|GPU||Intel UHD Graphics 620|
|Storage||256GB SATA||512GB SATA|
|Network||Intel 7265 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.2, Dual Band 2.4 & 5 GHz, 2x2|
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
|Audio||(2) tuned speakers; audio processing by Waves MaxxAudio® Pro|
|Weight||3.2 lbs ( 1.45 kg)|
|Dimensions||12.91-in x 8.5-in x 0.61-in
(309.6mm x 215.7mm x 15.51mm)
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
It's worth noting that while writing this review, these notebooks have been consistently available for under MSRP. The base configuration we are reviewing of the Dell Inspiron 13 7373 is remarkably well equipped and at the time of writing was available for $749. Considering that the $999 entry level model of the 2018 XPS 13 still comes with a paltry 4GB of system memory and 128GB SSD, this is a great value. For most consumers, including myself, I look at the 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD option as the sweet spot price comparison point between notebooks.
Subject: General Tech | December 1, 2017 - 09:20 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zotac, zbox, SFF, kaby lake refresh, Kaby Lake R
Zotac recently launched two new small form factor PCs under its Zbox brand – the Zbox MI660 nano and MI640 nano – powered by Intel's latest "8th Generation Core" Kaby Lake Refresh processors. Both computers utilize the same platform and have the same specifications save for the processor SKU. The Zbox MI660 nano (and MI640 nano) measure 5" x 5" x 2" (13cm x 13cm x 5.1cm) and feature an all black chassis with a flat vented top panel, round corners and sharp angled edges around the bottom. The PCs also have vents along the left, right, and bottom so no matter how it's mounted it should not have any problems getting proper airflow.
Zotac is using Kaby Lake R processors in these SFF PCs. Specifically, the MI660 is powered by a quad core (eight thread) Intel Core i7-8550U clocked at up to 4 GHz while the MI640 uses the Core i5-8250U clocked at up to 3.4 GHz (this chip is also a quad core). Both processors are 15W (configurable TDP up to 25W) 14nm+ chips that feature Intel UHD 620 graphics clocked at up to 1.1 GHz on the i5-8250U and 1.15 GHz on the i7-8550U. Zotac's new Zboxes also have two DDR4 SODIMM slots for up to 32GB of 2400 MHz memory and a single 2.5" bay for a SATA hard drive. Notably, there is no support for the ever-popular M.2 solid state drive here.
On the outside, the Zbox MI660 nano and MI640 nano feature a total of five USB 3.0 Type A ports, two USB 3.1 (presumably USB 3.1 Gen 1) Type C ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, two audio jacks, one SDXC card slot, one HDMI 2.0, and one DisplayPort 1.2 port. Zotac claims that the PCs are capable of outputting 4k60 video and the Kaby Lake R processors should support the DRM needed to stream videos at that resolution. In addition to the wired network connections, the SFF PCs also support 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 and there is a standard port on the back for an external antenna.
These little machines will likely be more popular with business users, but they may also do well as family PCs for doing homework in common areas or pulling HTPC duties in the living room as well. If you are interested in the performance of Kaby Lake R, Ken did a review of two notebooks powered by the Core i7-8550U that the MI660 uses here.
- Whose is longer, AMD's Ryzen Mobile or Intel's Kaby Lake-R?
- A Look at Intel 8th Generation Mobile Quad-Core Performance
- The Coffee Lake Story: Intel Core i7-8700K and Core i5-8400 Review
- The Intel Core i7-7700K Review - Kaby Lake and 14nm+
A surprise twist from Intel
Any expectations I had of a slower and less turbulent late summer and fall for the technology and hardware segments is getting shattered today with the beginning stages of Intel’s 8th Generation Core Processors. If you happen to think that this 8th generation is coming hot on the heels of the 7th generation that only just released to the consumer desktop market in January of this year, you’d be on the same page as me. If you are curious how Intel plans to balance Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, and Cannon Lake, all releasing in similar time frames and still use terms like “generation,” then again, we are on the same page.
Today Intel launches the 15-watt version of its 8th Generation Core Processors, based on a refresh of the Kaby Lake CPU design. This not a new architecture nor is this is not a new process node, though Intel does talk about slight changes in design and manufacturing that make it possible. The U-series processors that make up the majority of the thin and light and 2-in-1 designs for consumers and businesses are getting a significant upgrade in performance with this release. The Core i7 and Core i5 processors being announced will all be quad-core, HyperThreaded designs, moving us away from the world of dual-core processors in the 7th generation. Doubling core and thread count, while remaining inside the 15-watt thermal envelope for designs, is an incredible move and will strengthen Intel’s claim to this very important and very profitable segment.
Let’s look at the specifications table first. After all, we’re all geeks here.
|Core i7-8650U||Core i7-8550U||Core i5-8350U||Core i5-8250U||Core i7-7600U||Core i7-7500U|
|Architecture||Kaby Lake Refresh||Kaby Lake Refresh||Kaby Lake Refresh||Kaby Lake Refresh||Kaby Lake||Kaby Lake|
|Base Clock||1.9 GHz||1.8 GHz||1.7 GHz||1.6 GHz||2.8 GHz||2.7 GHz|
|Max Turbo Clock||4.2 GHz||4.0 GHz||3.8 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.9 GHz||3.5 GHz|
|Cache (L4 Cache)||8MB||8MB||6MB||6MB||4MB||4MB|
|System Bus||DMI3 - 8.0 GT/s||DMI3 - 8.0 GT/s||DMI2 - 6.4 GT/s||DMI2 - 5.0 GT/s||DMI2 - 5.0 GT/s||DMI2 - 5.0 GT/s|
|Graphics||UHD Graphics 620||UHD Graphics 620||UHD Graphics 620||UHD Graphics 620||HD Graphics 620||HD Graphics 620|
|Max Graphics Clock||1.15 GHz||1.15 GHz||1.1 GHz||1.1 GHz||1.15 GHz||1.05 GHz|
The only differences between the Core i7 and Core i5 designs will be in cache size (Core i5 has 6MB, Core i7 has 8MB) and the clock speeds of the processors. All of them feature four true Kaby Lake cores with HyperThreading enabled to support 8 simultaneous threads in a notebook. Dual channel memory capable of speeds of 2400 MHz in DDR4 and 2133 MHz in LPDDR3 remain. The integrated graphics portion offers the same performance as the 7th generation designs, though the branding has moved from Intel HD Graphics to Intel UHD Graphics. Because Ultra.
But take a gander at the clock speeds. The base clock on the four new CPUs range from 1.6 GHz to 1.9 GHz, with 100 MHz steps as you go up the SKU ladder. Those are low frequencies for modern processors, no doubt, but Intel has always been very conservative when it comes to setting specs for base frequency. This is the speed that Intel guarantees the processors will run at when the CPU is fully loaded using a 15-watt TDP cooling design. Keeping in mind that we moved from dual-core to quad-core processors, it makes sense that these base frequencies would drop. Intel doesn’t expect users in thin and light machines to utilize all 8 threads for very long, or very often, and instead focuses on shorter use cases for multi-threaded workloads (photo manipulation) that might run at 3.x GHz. If this period of time is short enough, the cooling solution will be able to “catch up” and keep the core within a reasonable range.